Best Maldives Liveaboard Reviews 2021

LAST UPDATED:

April 1, 2021

Finding the best Maldives liveaboard ain’t easy!

There’s dozens of different Maldives liveaboards to choose from and they all vary by price, onboard amenities and extra activities.

Also, different Maldives liveaboards explore different regions within the Maldives.

We’ve compiled a list of brutally honest Maldives liveaboard reviews and separated them into three price ranges: budget, mid-price and luxury. 

In the Regions & Routes section, we describe each diving region of the Maldives.

Click Green Text below to select Price-Range:

Scubapsa Yang liveaboard.
Huge Manta Ray swims over coral reef.

MID-PRICE: Best Maldives Liveaboards:

  • Scubaspa Yang features a spa, gym, yoga lessons, luxury bar, jacuzzi and kayaks! The best equipped Maldives liveaboard of all time – yet amazingly only mid-price! ROUTES: Central / Deep South.
  • Runs an impressive variety of dive itineraries to the off the beaten track regions of the Maldives, which have more shark species than anywhere else! ROUTES: Central / South / Deep South / North / Far North. 
  • Operates a variety of dive safaris with unique themes such as manta cruises and staying on a private island for several days. Some cabins have private balconies. ROUTES: Central / South / Deep South.
  • Fascination is ideal for anyone seeking a more intimate experience, taking a maximum of just 6 guests. Also, many water sports are on offer – including water skiing, surfing and wakeboarding. ROUTES: Central
  • With an onboard spa, paid internet, a beach bbq experience and stylish, modern cabins; Emperor Explorer offers a classy and premium service. ROUTES: Central / South / Deep South
  • Maldives Aggressor operates trips to the Maldives’ deep south more frequently than any other liveaboard! An extremely sleek and spacious vessel with a jacuzzi and modern furbish. ROUTES: Central / South / Deep South.
  • Another great Maldives liveaboard for off the beaten track routes. Carpe Novo is well suited for experienced divers. ROUTES: Central / South / Deep South / North /  Far North
  • Emperor Virgo runs some of the only beginner friendly dive safaris in the Maldives – guests only need their open water cert and no extra logged dives to go with this liveaboard.  ROUTES: Central. 
  • This beautiful liveaboard features a hot tub, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and a stunning interior with immaculate cabins.  ROUTES: Central / South / North. 
  • Honors Legacy is a stylish and compact modern yacht with a jacuzzi, spa and superb local and international cuisine. On some months, extreme saver deals are on offer. ROUTES: Central / South / Deep South

Other Price Ranges:

Luxury:

  • Conte Max features a wellbeing centre with an Ayurveda specialist to guide guests through yoga, meditation and deep relaxation. Find out more about Conte Max and other luxury Maldives liveaboards by clicking below!

Cheap:

  • Soleil 2 boasts a jacuzzi, spa, yoga and one of it’s cabins even has a private balcony – yet this is the second cheapest liveaboard in the entire Maldives. Read about Soleil 2 and other cheap Maldives liveaboards by clicking below:

QUICK COMPARISON - Best Maldives Liveaboards (MID-PRICE):

Find Out More: Liveaboard:  Defining Traits: Routes:
Click HereScubaspa YangScubapsa Yang liveaboard.Gym, Yoga, Spa, Jacuzzi, Kayaks.Central / Deep South
Click HereBlue VoyagerBlue Voyager Liveaboard at Sea.Off the Beaten Track, Long Trips, Value for MoneyCentral / South / Deep South / North / Far North
Click HereAdoraAdora at sea with scout boat in tow.Private Balconies, Luxury Cabins, Private Island StayCentral / South / Deep South / North / Far North
Click HereFascinationSmall Groups, Water-Sports, Intimate SettingCentral
Click HereEmperor ExplorerEmperor Explorer at sea.Spa, Huge Vessel, Beach BBQCentral / South / Deep South
Click HereMaldives AggressorDeep South, Off Beaten Track, JacuzziCentral / South / Deep South
Click HereCarpe NovoCarpe Novo at SeaExperienced Divers, Off Beaten Track, Exciting RoutesCentral / South / Deep South / North / Far North
Click HereEmperor VirgoBeginner Friendly, Yoga, KayaksCentral
Click HereSeafari ExplorerBeautiful Interior, Jacuzzi, KayaksCentral / South / North
Click HereHonors LegacySuperb Cuisine, Spa, JacuzziCentral / South / Deep South

Maldives Liveaboard Diving Routes / Regions

Routes travelled by liveaboards in maldives.

In general, Maldives liveaboard diving is characterised by action packed drift dives with lots of big marine life especially sharks and manta rays as well as many large pelagic fish. 

The underwater landscape is both varied and dramatic with various thilas, pinnacles, caves, overhangs and big, open expanses of water. 

However, the Maldives can be divided into five distinct regions: Central, South, Deep South, North and Far North. Each of these regions offers a slightly different experience.

Maldives liveaboards offer different itineraries / routes at different times of the year. These routes explore one or several of the five Maldivian regions:

We’ve briefly summarised the 5 diving regions of the Maldives below – but you can also get a much more detailed description of each, by checking out our main article: Scuba Diving in the Maldives. 

#1 Central:

The most frequently visited part of the Maldives; the central region consists of the atolls of Male, Ari, Rasdhoo and Vaavu. The Maldives’ capital city and only international airport are both situated on Male atoll, so it’s the easiest part of the island nation to reach. The further other regions are from Male; the harder to get to and the more off the beaten track they are. 

There are more known scuba diving sites around Male and Ari atolls than anywhere else in the Maldives- they were the first places to be properly explored by scuba divers. Higher levels of tourism does mean bigger crowds though and this includes at dive sites.

However, all Maldives liveaboards heavily feature the central region in some or all of their routes, so you have the biggest scope of options when planning a dive trip in the central region. 

Expect lots of drift dives, reef sharks and manta ray cleaning stations around all of the central region dive sites.

Male atoll has a varied underwater terrain of many caves, walls and overhangs with lots of reef shark action – this atoll is also the location of some of the best coral reef in the country. Ari atoll is often considered to be the best place in the Maldives to dive with a whale shark whereas Rasdhoo is the the place to go for those wanting to see hammerhead sharks!

All liveaboards in the Maldives explore the central region in some or all of their routes. 

#2 South:

The first and perhaps most popular point of call for those seeking a more off the beaten track experience in the Maldives, is the southern atolls. Comprised of the atolls of Laamu, Thaa and Meemu, this area is also well known for drift dives and a varied, exciting underwater landscape.

There is a lot of big pelagic hunting action around the south Maldives with the likes of grey reef sharks, dogtooth tuna and eagle rays seen regularly hunting enormous schools of fish. 

There’s also various manta ray cleaning stations and whale shark sightings as well as several beginner friendly dive sites within sheltered lagoons where divers can see beautiful coral, turtles and colourful reef creatures such as napoleon wrasse. 

The South is explored by the following liveaboards: Carpe Novo, Blue Voyager, Emperor Explorer, Conte Max, Princess Rani and Adora.

#3 Deep South:

Although large marine animals can be seen throughout all of the Maldives, the deep south region is the best place in the country for sheer diversity of big marine life.

For example, in addition to the silver tip, white tip and grey reef sharks found in other Maldivian regions, within the deep south, scuba divers can also easily encounter many tiger sharks and thresher sharks as well as sometimes see hammerhead sharks, mola mola and black oceanic manta rays. 

Comprised of Addu atoll, Fuvahmulah atoll and Huvadhu atoll, the Maldives deep south region is located very close to the equator. This means that diving conditions here remain excellent throughout the year, with great underwater visibility, calm seas and clear skies overhead.

Also, within the deep south lies the Maldives’ biggest shipwreck: the 134 meter long British loyalty which is covered in a lot of intricate hard and soft corals and home to species like batfish, frogfish and lobsters. 

Maldives liveaboards that include the deep south in their diving itineraries are: Scubaspa Yang, Blue Voyager, Adora, Carpe Novo, Princess Rani, Nautlilus Two and Conte Max

#4 North:

Consisting of the Baa, Raa and Lhaviyani atolls, the north Maldives is less frequented by liveaboards than the southern region, so it’s the ideal place to go if you want to see as few other humans as possible!

Baa atoll is famous for Hanifaru Bay where between May and October, more manta rays and whale sharks gather than anywhere else in the Maldives – however you can only snorkel Hanifaru Bay as scuba diving there is now prohibited. All the same, it makes for a pretty spectacular snorkel!

Throughout the north Maldives, there are exciting sites that you can scuba dive, including various manta cleaning stations and exciting drift dives with silver tip sharks, black tip sharks and grey sharks as well as scores of eagle rays and hawksbill turtles across dramatic underwater landscapes of canyons, walls and thilas. 

The North region is explored by the Maldives liveaboards Blue Voyager and Carpe Novo

#5 Far North:

The most far flung and rarely visited region of the entire Maldives, the far north atolls are Haa Alifu, Haa Dhaalu and Shaviyani. This is the final frontier of scuba discovery within the country, with new dive sites still being discovered there. 

At the most far northern point lies Haa Alifu – this atoll is 300km north of Male and has some spectacular drift dives as well as being a great place to spot leopard sharks. Found here also are several manta cleaning stations and the eighty meter long Madoo shipwreck. 

Haa Dhaalu has a spectacular underwater landscape with many rocky pinnacles and mighty underwater walls and cliffs covered in colourful corals. Around this atolls various dive sites, one can spot white tip reef sharks, nurse sharks and marble rays as well as lots of big pelagic fish. 

Shaviyani is the most rarely visited atoll, with new dive sites still being discovered on a frequent basis. It’s a good area for seeing guitar sharks and rays! 

The only liveaboards in the Maldives to explore the far north region are Blue Voyager and Carpe Novo.

And there you go – that’s a brief summary of all five of the major regions in the Maldives. For a much more detailed description of each, don’t forget to check out our main page:

Scuba Diving in the Maldives. 

Liveaboard diving in the Maldives is possible all year! Manta rays, sharks and other large pelagic animals can be encountered at any given time. The likelihood that they will be seen is more determined by day to day factors such as high/low tide and sunrise-sunset. 

That said, most parts of the Maldives (central, north, far north and south) do experience seasonal fluctuations that affect weather conditions and to some extent affect numbers of pelagic filter feeders (manta rays and whale sharks). These seasonal fluctuations also have some affect on the weather and dive conditions such as visibility and strength of currents. 

December - May: Northeast Monsoon Season = High Season

A general lack of wind in the Maldives during this time results in clear skies, plenty of sun and calm seas.

Water visibility is truly phenomenal: especially on the eastern side of the atolls, where divers can enjoy up to thirty five meter visibility!

Although seas are calm on the surface, the current is strongest over this period; which results in a lot of fast paced drift diving. 

This part of the year sees the biggest influx of tourism to the Maldives so expect more crowds both in and out of the water. 

June - November: Southwest Monsoon Season = Low Season

Winds pick up during this period and this does mean seas tend to get a little rougher. Overhead the sky tends to be cloudier and between May and August it is wet season, which is usually characterised by short and heavy rainfall, followed by sun. 

By June, vast numbers of plankton have built up in the water and this attracts a lot of mantas and whale sharks (mantas and whale sharks animals can be seen throughout the year in the Maldives, it’s just likely that there will be more of them during low season!).  

Do note, that due to the southwest monsoon causing rougher seas as well as the heavy build up of plankton (between May – August), water visibility is not as good as during high season. 

However, during low season crowds will be much fewer and resorts may be cheaper. 

  • The Maldives’ Deep South sits right on the equator and so does not experience any seasonal fluctuations. All year round, it’s weather and diving conditions can be compared to that of the High Season (December – May) period in the rest of the Maldives.

How to Get There

Plane flying over maldives.

Velana international Airport is the only airport in the Maldives which receives international flights from multiple destinations. It is located on Hulhule Island in north male atoll, near the capital island, Male. 

Fortunately, this is the departure point of all liveaboards in the Maldives – most of which will be happy to arrange collecting you from the airport and transferring you to the ferry. 

The Maldives requires that international visitors have a passport that is valid for six months from their expected departure date as well as proof of sufficient funds and an outward travel plan. You will automatically be granted a 30 day visa on arrival which can be extended to 90 days if requested. 

Our favourite website for booking cheap and flexible flights is without a doubt Sky Scanner

Maldives Liveaboard Diving - What to Expect

The Maldives is located in the north-central Indian Ocean, roughly one thousand kilometres southwest from the Indian subcontinent.

This tiny South Asian nation is comprised of a long and narrow chain of some 1,200 small coral islands and sandbanks grouped into 26 atolls; separated by broad, deep channels.

In total, only about 200 of these islands are inhabited.

Because the Indian Monsoon current sweeps along this island chain, supplying the waters with rich nutrients, the marine ecosystem supports and attracts many large marine animals. 

Divers can expect to see lots of grey reef sharks, white tip reef sharks and silver tip sharks as well as many mantas, eagle rays and other big pelagic fish such as tuna, snappers, napoleon wrasse and huge schools of fusiliers and other small fish. 

Other species that are quite commonly encountered include whale sharks, mola mola, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, thresher sharks and guitar sharks! In fact, the Maldives is seen as the number one dive destination in the world to see with whale sharks and mantas!

The strong currents mean that much of scuba diving in the Maldives is drift diving. Because of this, Maldives liveaboard diving is best suited for experienced divers – those with their advanced open water certification and at least 30 logged dives. 

Many eagle rays in the maldives.

The underwater landscape of the Maldives is both varied and dramatic. 

Rocky pinnacles locally known as Thilas rise up to scratch the waters surfaces; providing a safe refuge and excellent observation point for sessile marine life such as colourful soft coral and invertebrates.

Between the atolls lie deep and broad channels which contain many swim-throughs, caverns, caves and overhangs. These are covered in colourful hard and soft coral as well as used as a resting spot by larger marine animals like rays and sharks. 

A little removed from the shallow water reefs divers can visit cleaning stations and frequently witness wrasse and cleaner shrimp servicing manta rays, reef sharks and turtles. 

There are a few shipwrecks around the Maldives and even some sheltered scuba diving to be had within lagoons that are more suitable for beginners. 

However, the majority of Maldives liveaboard diving is defined by fast paced drift dives with lots of shark action and other big pelagics hunting after huge schools of fish. 

Truly, there is some epic dive trips / scuba diving in the Maldives to be had! Check our our Main Page on Maldives Diving for much more info!

Maldives Liveaboard Diving - Squad Debriefing

And there you have it Diving Squad. We’ve reviewed the best Maldives liveaboards as well as the different regions / liveaboard routes within the Maldives, diving season, how to get there and a brief look at what to expect from Maldives liveaboard diving. 

Don’t forget that on this homepage we’ve only included the reviews for mid-price Maldives liveaboards. 

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Written by:

Alex

Alex

Scuba fanatic. Travel ecstatic. Erratic. The name's Alex.